TORONTO — After more than a year of not allowing customers to use reusable mugs in their stores due to COVID-19 fears, Starbucks has announced they’re reintroducing them.
At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, major coffee chains such as Starbucks and Tim Hortons, among others, announced they would no longer be allowing customers to bring their own travel mugs from home to get drinks.
Earlier this month, Starbucks reversed that decision, saying in a statement focused on their mission to reduce waste that they were “excited to welcome back the use of personal cups after a temporary pause out of an abundance of caution.”
Tim Hortons told CTVNews.ca in an emailed statement that they currently have no plans to reintroduce personal mugs.
“We are continuing to monitor the public health environments across Canada as we evaluate when to bring back the use of reusable cups,” the statement read.
When reusable mugs were taken out of rotation in March 2020, Tim Hortons had to delay the distribution of 1.8 million reusable cups that were planned to be prizes in the Roll Up the Rim contest.
Although reusable mugs will be accepted in Starbucks again, you won’t be able to bring in a mug with an inch of yesterday’s coffee at the bottom, have the Starbucks barista wash it and then fill it with fresh coffee or tea.
The company has come up with a “contactless” plan for personal cups.
Only cups that are already clean will be accepted, and customers will place the reusable mug themselves in a ceramic mug or on a tray. Baristas will then touch the ceramic mug or the tray when pouring your drink into your reusable mug, so that their hands do not come into contact with your mug.
For now, this only applies to in-store drink purchases, and reusable cups will not be allowed in any drive-thru.
In the company’s August statement, they emphasized that bringing reusable mugs back was part of their mission to shift away from single-use packaging — a mission that many industries had to stall on during the pandemic, when cleanliness became the top concern. They also stated that they would be taking the “final steps” to eliminate plastic straws in stores and replace them with paper ones.